Former Sen. Specter on GOP infighting: I should have called it 'raw cannibalism'

Former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who called conservative primary challenges to centrist GOP senators a form of "sophisticated cannibalism" in his farewell speech late last year, now says that characterization was too kind. 

In an interview with the Penn Current, a University of Pennsylvania publication, Specter said he should have called it "raw cannibalism" and predicted the 2012 election season will devolve into "chaos."   

Specter, who switched parties last cycle in the face of a primary challenge from Republican Pat Toomey, said the "fringes" of both parties are now in complete control of the primary process. He cited Sen. Joe Lieberman's inability (I-Conn.) to win a Democratic primary back in 2006 and former Sen. Bob Bennett's (R-Utah) loss last cycle.

Specter called the opposition Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) faced from members of the Senate Republican caucus after her primary defeat to Tea Party-backed challenger Joe Miller, "raw cannibalism." 

"People that she sits with every Tuesday for lunch, and with whom she talks about party affairs, felt she wasn't sufficiently conservative," Specter said. "I called that in my speech 'sophisticated cannibalism,' and I made a mistake; I should not have called it sophisticated. It's just raw cannibalism." 

Specter didn't single anyone out by name, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was Murkowski's staunchest opponent within the ranks of Senate Republicans, and he argued forcefully for the stripping of her ranking spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Specter, who ended up losing a Democratic primary to former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), said hyper-partisanship has infected both parties and predicted a politically poisonous run up to the 2012 election. 

"The fights between the parties have descended to a level where right now it appears we are going to have two years of chaos, until the decision is made about who is going to be elected president in 2012," Specter said.